Verizon Wireless crunches numbers for you — or tries to

July 6, 2011

Verizon Wireless customers getting stressed out about whether they’d charge past their 2-gigabyte download limit? The company is here to help, at least in theory. 

 Tomorrow the company is eliminating its $30/month, unlimited data plans for new smartphone customers (existing users can keep their plans).

But long before the change, Verizon Wireless had offered something called the data calculator on its website, a handy service that estimates how much data you’d use if you send, say, 250 text-only emails a day (the answer is apparently 73.24 megabyes of data).  That sounds really helpful — but then it gets a little confusing. 

Apparently some of the data on Verizon’s online caculator is actually incorrect, so they’re planning to fix  it all tonight before they roll out tiered pricing: starting at a $30/month fee for 2 gigabytes of data use.  

Spokeswoman Brenda Raney said the company “found some issues on the back-end so “we’re correcting it and getting it in place for the new usage-based plans.” She added that the company wants its customers to “use the calculator to select the best plan.”

Interestingly, some of the  usage numbers will look more palatable tomorrow than today, but some will look a little less so. Take video streaming.

Today, before the fix, the equation looks pretty different in the calculator:

1 hour/ day low res =1.35 GB/month

After the fix it will transform into:

1hour/day low res = 5.86 gigabytes /month

Before the correction high-res streaming is clocked at  1hour/day = 10.43 GB

Tomorrow, 1 hour/day= 11.72 GB.

That means you’ll  either have to watch less video or stump up for the $80 per month package, getting 10 gigabytes a month. Then, you’d have to add another $20 for 2 GB in overage charges, at a rate of $10 per GB.  The $50 per month package for 5 gigabytes wouldn’t cut it, even for low-res video.

High-resolution video entails downloading 400 MB of video per hour, while low-res video typically equates to streams of 200 MB per hour.

As for streaming music, today the calculation on the website says:

1 hour/day = 1.99 GB, *assuming the streaming rate is 40 megabytes per hour.

After the fix the website will say this:

1 hour/day = 1.17 GB per month, * also based on 40 MB per hour steaming.

Confused yet? One more thing to be aware of is that the data calculator  shows different download sizes for the same activity depending on the device you’re using. This is because the network will figure out if you’re using a bigger screen — like a computer — so it will send you a higher-resolution video, leeting you view it at its best.

It seems however that not too many people actually stream video to their phones very often, according to Consumer Reports. The independent organization said on Wednesday it does not see high Verizon data bills rising as most consumers use less than the 2 GB plan, which costs the same as today’s unlimited services at $30/month.

We hope you’re less confused now.

(Reuters Photo: taken at a Verizon Wireless store in February)

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New Verizon users should now consider using an app like DataMan Pro for iPhone, which is already popular with AT&T users, to prevent overage charges. DataMan tracks your cellular data usage every 10 minutes, giving you daily, weekly and monthly usage statistics. Plus, it warns you in real-time when you exceed your custom usage thresholds, geotags your data activities, and works with all carriers.

Posted by jixe | Report as abusive

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